NaBloPoMo #5: Across The Great Divide
My Facebook news feed has become all but unreadable these days, and I find myself grateful that this is almost over. Somebody, new or seasoned, will be voted into office tomorrow (oh, please God, let them be voted into office tomorrow without a voter turned away or a chad hanging anywhere). It'll take a week or so for the furor to die down after, of course, and then I can go back to seeing pictures of my friends' kids and animals and hearing about the great place they went for dinner.
Till then, I navigate the narrow gorge between my old life and my current life.
I was raised a Southern Baptist girl in a small Southwestern town, where the term "God, Guns and Country" was an oath that was not to be taken lightly. If someone wasn't firmly "for" advancing everything that the major televangelists and local preachers said they ought to be for, then that made them not one of us. If they had ideas that were contrary to ours, we shut our ears, for they were not one of us and therefore not to be heard by us.
I left home three months after high school graduation to go on to college, much to my mother's puzzlement. Why did I need a college degree? If I wanted a job, the Piggly Wiggly in town was always hiring. There was even a secretarial school in town, if I wanted one of those "office-ey" type jobs. Dad was a bit puzzled to, mostly because I was planning on studying Theatre. Why did I need to waste college on that? He called it my "Underwater Basket Weaving Degree." I called it my ticket out of there.
With my incredibly funny, incredibly accepting, incredibly liberal Theatre friends, I discovered a whole new world. I used to say that I never met a gay person until I went to college. I know how incredibly false that is now, of course. I had many gay friends in high school. They just couldn't tell me - or anyone - that they were. It hurts me to realize that now. But suddenly, I met people from all over not just the country, but the world. They were people of differing religions (not just varying degrees of Protestant) and some with (gasp!) no religion at all. And despite all I'd been taught growing up, some of them were the most morally upright and responsible people I've ever known.
I pulled my first lever in 1984, voting for Ronald Reagan. I liked the fact that he was an actor, and my father claimed to be a republican, so I decided he was good enough.
I did a little more research for all the following elections, thank goodness. I've remained an Independent Voter, sometimes pulling for the Republicans, and sometimes pulling Democrat. Through it all, I've remained staunch about not discussing politics in the workplace, or on the internet in a public forum. What used to be a topic of curiosity and interest has now become a soapbox, a grandstand, a place of judgement where you'll be tried (and hanged and harangued) for the unspeakable sin of voting for the other guy.
My Facebook is almost evenly divided - High School friends and about half my neighbors one side of that hanging tree, and College friends and the other half of my neighbors on the other side. I don't look at them any differently for it, honestly, unless they show me that they look at anyone else differently for their views. Narrowmindedness runs deep on both sides, sometimes, and I must say it makes me angry some days.
Do you remember, back when your parents were young, when people could sit next to each other in church or pass each other on the street and not know who they voted for, or even consider holding that decision against somebody? There have always been political extremists, to be sure, but never as they are now. They used to be a minority. It used to be if your guy didn't win, the other guy wasn't the end of the world.
Now he's not only the end of the world, but he's a complete apocalyse brought on intentionally by the possibility of your vote. And you must be held accountable, at all costs.
That's a heavy load to bear. I just know I'd like to have my friends back.